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Thomas Lovejoy, “The Godfather of Biodiversity” said, "If you take care of the birds, you take care of most of the big problems in the world." The same might be said about light pollution. Reduce light pollution and you reduce its harmful, biological effects to birds, fish, frogs, trees, and most forms of life that have evolved in sync with the clockwork of day and night --- including humans. Reduce light pollution and you reduce energy waste caused by unnecessarily lighting the sky or your neighbor’s bedroom. Reduce light pollution and we may make streets and neighborhoods safer. More studies are showing that certain outdoor lighting may invite crime, not deter it. More and more people are heard saying, “I avoid driving at night; the lights are blinding.”
As you know, RCA is comprised of many amazing volunteers who generously give their time to share their passion and love for astronomy and science with the community. Whether it is setting up a telescope at a star party with students or a private event, working with kids in the classroom, or talking with people at a resource table at a maker fair or farmer's market - RCA volunteers are there!
The first question you may be asking yourself is "How do I volunteer?" Maybe you have never done astronomy outreach before. No problem! There are different ways to volunteer, depending on what you like to do. If you like to do star parties, but don't have a telescope? Let us know. We can find a way to get you connected with the equipment you need. Do you like to develop activities for kids? We can work on putting together content for different school requests. You don't have to know everything about astronomy to volunteer. We can bring you up to speed on what you want to know. Not sure how to work a telescope? We can partner you with someone who does and you can work together.
The topic of technology and observing have come up again recently with the appearance of yet another technology that is likely to revolutionize observing: Electronically Enhanced Astronomy (EEA), such as is used by the recently Kickstarted Unistellar eVscope (image from their website).
This development is likely to stir up the kind of discussion and debate that the advent of GoTo technology brought up twenty years ago. There’s already lively discussion about it on our Forum and other amateur astronomy boards.
I propose to settle the debate from the start: technology always wins. So let’s predict that EEA is going to revolutionize our hobby and I hope for the better. But I am always the voice that says: don’t let the technology overtake our enjoyment of the sky and the stars that fill those gorgeous nights.
Observing Survey:If you haven’t filled out the survey regarding our observing site choices, time is getting short. We appreciate hearing from everyone who fills it out.
Astro-Imaging Class: Registration for the Astro-Imaging Class is still open. The cost of the class is $20, and class is limited to forty people. It’s filling rapidly so if you want to start at the very beginning and move into the mid-weeds of imaging, this is the class for you.
Camp Hancock: Registration for Camp Hancock is open until March 10. We are limited to 45 RCA members and guests and registration is filling up for this popular event.
Youth Astronomy Class:The Youth Astronomy Class registration is still open. Classes start in March, so if you know of a youth who wants to learn about astronomy and observing, we encourage our members to point them this direction.
Youth Award: We’re still interested in awarding money to young people who do something of merit regarding astronomy and the sciences. Contact our Youth Director if you know of a project that might qualify.
Until the skies clear, I hope we all get to enjoy our winter days!
It’s been over 13 years since the RCA Board officially surveyed the membership about its astronomical observing needs. Quite a bit has changed since the last survey, including the size and composition of our membership, the type and number of our available observing sites, the rise in light pollution (particularly from LED lights), the popularity of astrophotography, and the increase in traffic congestion in the metro area. So, it’s time that the Board hear from the membership again. Starting December 16th and running for a month or two, you can take the survey online or, if you'd prefer, take it using in hard copy at our general meetings. Both formats will be on-hand at the Holiday Potluck on December 18th to make it easier for you to contribute to this important survey campaign.
Ever looked up into the night sky and wondered what’s up? Experts from Rose City Astronomers will prepare you to explore the universe. Learn the fundamentals of observational astronomy, how to use binoculars and telescopes to explore the night sky, to observe planets, star clusters, nebula, galaxies. Learn about objects astronomers study, how and why our view of the night sky changes through the night, and with the seasons, how telescopes work and how to use them, and how to find your way in the night sky. We will finish with practical advice on how to prepare for a night exploring the universe. In addition to the classroom sessions, telescope observing opportunities under the night sky will be offered. Students and their families will be invited to a end optional star parties with Rose City Astronomers after this class.
In 2017, we have started to transform our Telescope Library to increase the value we deliver to our group. This is a good time to look back and appreciate the changes we've made, and the challenges we faced in the past year:
1. Recruiting volunteers has made greater borrowing volume and high quality service a reality, and we will continue to improve in 2018. We also continue to look for people with talent and skills to help maintain and improve our collection. If you like to work with telescopes, we have a place for you!
2. We are modernizing our collection and responding to your demands, by donations and planned acquisitions of newer gear, and retirement of older, less or non-borrowed items.
3. We experimented with multiple-month loans, and customized orders. We will apply these ideas and lessons learned in 2018; expect to see more of this.
4. Introducing web-based reservations has changed how telescopes are borrowed, improving planning for everyone. Most of our borrowing is now done by reservation, but you can still borrow a telescope on-the-spot, at any meeting, year-round. We already have reservation as much as 6 months in advance for 2018.
Digital cameras are more sensitive than the human eye or photographic film when it comes to detecting faint astronomical objects. As an astro-imager, I sometimes see very dim “smudges” in the background of some of my images. I never investigated them until recently. I got the idea as I was working on an image of NGC 7331, the so-called Deer Lick galaxy group. Looking carefully, I noticed lots of small faint objects all over the background. I wanted to know if they were stars or galaxies and I wanted to know their magnitudes and any other information I could find.
In 1988, the OMSI Astronomy Club and the Portland Astronomical Society merged. In the coming year, we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary as RCA. Our printed 2018 calendar (on sale now) has a lovely 30th year logo on it and it includes, among the usual awesome imaging done by our very own members, some striking black-and-white photos of astronomy in Portland that goes back well more than thirty years. The strength of interest in astronomy in cloudy, rain-sodden Oregon shows the staying power of hope over experience, doesn’t it?
Banner Design Contest
We need better visual displays! We’ve decided to get three retractable banners printed to use for outreach events. We’re asking imagers to put their wonderful work to good use on what we hope will be stunning banners. Create something beautiful using astronomy images with, at a minimum, our name, logo and our url address. If your design is chosen, we’ll award you with a copy of the book Skyglow. Any member can create a design, but astro-images should be done by an RCA member and have their permission for use. The final size will be 33" x 78." A high-resolution PDF would work well. We’d like to have these ready for next year’s events, so the deadline is Dec. 31 for submitting your entry. To get the logo, contact the president,communications v.p. or the calendar v.p. and we can send you one for incorporation in your creative, attractive, informative, communicative representation of our club.
RCA welcomes Yara Green to the board as our 2018 Vice-President of Outreach and Education. We're also happy to announce that Kathy Kerner, who has been doing such fantastic work on our Twitter and Facebook pages, has joined our Communications Team as our new Social Media Coordinator.
Since Steve Weiler is stepping down after many years of diligent service in his essential role as Observing VP, that position is now open for 2018, so please let us know if you are interested!
The following slate of officers was elected at our November 27 General Meeting:
President: Margaret McCrea Secretary: Duncan Kitchin Treasurer: Larry Godsey VP Membership: Ken Hose VP Observing: Position Open VP Outreach & Education: Yara Green VP Program: Mark Martin VP Communication: Paul Edison-Lahm